Originally Posted by Spitball
To real baseball people, avoiding contact is called "not trusting your stuff". To real baseball people, "inviting contact" is saying that you go out there, be aggressive and go after the hitter. Don't be afraid to invite contact because if you fall behind in the count, you will have to come to the batter with a "crippled pitch."
Of course you don't want to be afraid of contact. But that's a fundamentally different concept than "inviting contact" (a.k.a. "pitching to contact"). The irony is that we actually agree on pitching philosophy, but "inviting contact" isn't it.
I don't know how often you talk to pitching coaches, but this comment by Pole is standard advice embraced by virtually everyone.
The problem is that you're not actually talking about "inviting contact" (which IS what Pole is talking about). I posted the Dan O'Brien passage from 2004. That's a near dictionary definition of "inviting contact"- as is the following explanation from 2004 Brooklyn Cyclone (Mets) Manager Tony Tijerina regarding then-prospect Scott Hyde's pitching performance:
Hyde had seven ground ball outs to his two fly ball outs, improving his season ratio to twenty-one groundball outs to seven fly ball outs. Manager Tony Tijerina was very impressed, and mentioned how the organization makes special notes of pitchers like that.
“That is really impressive” said Tijerina. “That is something we track in the organization, and reward our pitchers for getting groundball outs, or getting outs while throwing three pitches or less in an at bat, or for throwing strikes, and not walking people. We monitor that very closely, and make sure to recognize those pitchers.”
“We call it inviting contact, and letting your defense do the work” said Tijerina.
That's a "real" baseball guy telling us exactly what I've been telling you. It's exactly the same concept that Dan O'Brien attempted to implement; a concept that was doomed from the get-go. It's a philosophy where getting ahead of hitters and not walking them are byproducts; i.e. results of the primary objectives.
Those objectives are all about trying to coax players into weak contact early in the count to conserve pitches while relying on your defense to make plays. That's what "inviting contact" is; from the mouth of a "real" baseball person. Pitch conservation is important, but the number of groundball Outs and PA's ended in three pitches or less becomes a primary goal, that's just awful. Organizations are much better served by acquiring pitchers who are adept at actually getting Outs rather than trying to preach the method of doing so.
The problem with "inviting contact" that for it to make you a better pitcher, you have to be a ground ball demon, have a great defense behind you, AND you have to be able to exert some control over your BABIP and HR rate.
Let's see...active pitchers I know of who might (I repeat "might") fit that description:
And that's a real problem and highlights the primary reason the real "invite contact/pitch to contact" philosophy doesn't work- it tries to re-create historical outliers using pitchers who are almost 100% unlikely to have the same skill sets.
I'm actually slightly encouraged that Pole doesn't appear to want to teach the sinker to pitchers whom aren't already adept in throwing the pitch. But I'll be darned if I'm not entirely discouraged
by Pole's reliance on an otherwise outdated methodology only useful for outliers. Over the long haul, it's not going to make mediocre pitchers better (his spotty history has already demonstrated that). And it's got the potential to screw up good pitchers. When a philosophy is, at best, a neutral and, at worst, a negative I'll give it absolutely no support.
And this conversation does need to end because it's reminding me too much of last offseason when some random dude showed up and tried to tell me how a level swing was part of rotational hitting philosophy.
This conversation is also a great example of how "subjective" conversations are too often unproductive. The party who considers themself to be more experienced ends up citing "thirty years of experience" and "universally accepted" as actual points in their favor.
Problem is that both are logical fallacies in the form of argumentum ad antiquitam and argumentum ad populum. Questioning my honor in this debate and claiming that I have a slant is argumentum ad hominem. Basically, you've got a trifecta of rhetoric going there, but then claim that I'm the "masterful politician". Amusing. The reality is that I've done nothing but attempt to explain where you've gone wrong but you won't hear it because you're tied to what you knew before today. I have no such predilection so I'll let your argument stand on it's merit. Sorry, but that leaves you in a somewhat bad position.